Diabetes is becoming more common and more common these days. We are even seeing individuals develop diabetes at an extremely young age. This is disturbing because diabetes is not only a life long condition that can alter the way someone lives, but it also can lead to some serious health complications if the person does not properly manage his/her condition.
In this week’s blog we are going to discuss the different types of diabetes, how to manage them, and the possible risk factors that increase someone’s susceptibility to developing diabetes.
There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. There is another type known as gestational diabetes, which occurs during pregnancy. Some current research is indicating that some forms of Alzheimer’s Disease may actually be “Type 3 Diabetes” but for the sake of this blog, we are going to focus on Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes.
There is a big difference between how the two types work, however the main similarly is that someone with diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, has difficulty managing their blood glucose levels due to issues surrounding insulin. Insulin is a chemical that is released into the blood stream in response to high blood glucose levels. The insulin then acts as a key to “unlock” the body’s cells and allow the glucose to enter the cell to then be turned into energy.
However, when someone has diabetes, their insulin does not work properly making it difficult to get glucose out of the blood stream and into the cells. If our body does not get glucose to enter the cells and it chronically stays in the bloodstream, damage can occur to the nerves and blood vessels. Left untreated, this damage can cause serious life threatening conditions like heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. Other conditions may include neuropathy, poor circulation and slow healing wounds.
Type 1 Diabetes occurs when there is a physical problem with the person’s pancreas. (Insulin is secreted from the pancreas). This causes the individual to either not make enough insulin or any at all. Type 1 Diabetes is more of a genetic condition, therefore it can be difficult to prevent or reverse. It usually shows up early in a person’s life.
Type 2 Diabetes is the opposite. People are not born with a genetic condition, rather their diabetes was acquired slowly over time through poor diet and lifestyle choices. Family history of diabetes also plays a role. In Type 2 Diabetes the person’s cells in the the muscles, fat and liver are resistant to insulin. They may be required to take insulin depending on the severity of the diabetes. Those with Type 2 Diabetes have a chance to reverse it— if caught early enough.
That being said, the best way to manage diabetes is through proper diet and exercise. This is true for both Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Developing a nutrient filled diet with healthy fat, adequate protein, and complex carbohydrates is ideal for someone with diabetes. Someone with diabetes does not have to completely avoid carbohydrates, or sugars, they just have to be sure that they are picking the right ones. Complex carbohydrates are the natural sugars found in fruits and veggies. These carbohydrates are good because they take the body longer to digest, therefore glucose levels will not rapidly spike in the blood stream as if someone consume simple carbohydrates, like pasta, cookies and candies.
Exercise is another way to manage diabetes. Strive to exercise for 30 minutes daily, whether it is a walk or a weight lifting session. By exercising, glucose levels will become more stable and weight can be lost in an effort to prevent the development of Type 2 Diabetes.
Risk factors for developing diabetes include: genetics, obesity, poor diet, and a sedentary lifestyle. However, there is another risk factor that must be talked about; it is a condition known as Metabolic Syndrome that can increase someone’s chance of developing diabetes, heart disease or stroke.
Metabolic syndrome is composed of a cluster of conditions like high blood pressure, high glucose levels, high cholesterol, and increased body fat. Having one or more of these factors increases someone’s ability to develop a life threatening condition. Another condition that increases the chances of developing diabetes is “pre-diabetes”. This occurs when someone’s blood glucose level is on the higher end of the scale, but not in the territory to be considered diabetes yet. This is important to discover sooner rather than later because then you can start to incorporate a proper diet and exercise to help get the glucose levels down into healthy levels.
If caught early enough and the right precautions are taken through diet and exercise, Type 2 Diabetes, Metabolic Syndrome, and Pre-Diabetes can be managed, prevented or possibly even reversed. This would help decrease how many people have diabetes, or the serious complications that comes with it, and help increase one’s overall healthy lifestyle.